158042 Pte. Thomas James Barefoot was born in Loosley Row, near Prince's Risborough, Buckinghamshire, England, on February 27th, 1883, to John and Emma Barefoot.


The couple had six known children: Clara (b1880), Thomas (b1883) Albert (b1886), Alfred (b1892), Constance (b1894) and Nellie (b1895).


Thomas, a scholar in the 1891 UK Census, moved to London and was shown in the 1901 UK Census to be a barman amongst 11 staff to a Mr. George Vale (a Licensed Victuallers Manager) in a large house in Upper Marylebone Street.


In 1905 Thomas married Eliza Batten, in Edmonton, London, and the couple subsequently had two known children: Thomas Frank (b1906) and Albert Frederick (b1909).


According to the 1921 Canadian Census, the family emigrated to Canada in 1909, but they were clearly still in Uxbridge, London, England, in the 1911 UK Census. As no passenger details can be found for their transit to Canada, the emigration date is subject to further query.


The family was living in Toronto when war broke out, and Thomas, by then a teamster, joined the 10th Royal Grenadiers on enlistment on September 10th, 1915. However, he took three years off of his year of birth, citing it to be 1886 rather than the factual 1883. He was transferred to the 81st Battalion on October 1st, and took on the rank of Acting Lance Corporal in February 1916. The unit sailed for the UK on April 28th, 1916, aboard the S.S. Olympic, a sister ship to the infamous Titanic.


His promotion to Acting Lance Corporal with pay was approved on June 15th, and then Thomas was transferred to the 4th CMR on June 28th, 1916, as a draft to rebuild the regiment after its huge losses at the "Battle for Mount Sorrel" on June 2nd, 1916. Losing his promotion, reverted to Private, he joined the 4th CMR in the field, on July 12th, as the regiment was moving into billets at Steenvoorde.


His time with the 4th CMR was short, albeit he saw action with them as they rebuilt and after training headed back to the front line area, taking up positions in July all along the front near Sanctuary and Armagh Woods, where their large losses had been back in June. Subject to shelling and sniping, further attritional losses occurred until they were out of the line at Poperinge and again at Steenvoorde at the end of the month.


They served at the front at "The Bluff" near the Ypres-Comines canal, before moving on to The Somme, via Albert, in early September. There they found themselves straight into the front line at Mouquet Farm, Pozières, being bombarded by gas shells. Then they were in the attack at Courcellete, where the new Tank made its debut. Later in the month the regiment headed back to Albert before finding themselves in the front line at Pozières once again. The last action Thomas saw with the 4th CMR was the costly attack on Regina Trench until they were relieved by the 49th Battalion on October 2nd, 1916.


During that push on Regina Trench, Thomas received shrapnel wounds in his lower back. He was attended to at a Casualty Clearing Station on October 2nd before being sent back to 13 General Hospital at Boulogne on October 3rd. From there he was shipped to Wharncliffe War Hospital, in Sheffield, England, on October 6th. He remained under treatment there until he was moved to The King's Canadian Red Cross Convalescent Hospital at Bushy Park, Hampton Hill, Middlesex, on January 22nd, 1917.


Thomas was discharged to the 1st Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre at St. Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings (on the English south coast), in early February 1917, from where he was transferred to the 1st Deport Battalion 2nd C.O.R. in mid-March and then the 8th Reserve Battalion in Shorncliffe in late March 1917, pending furlough to Canada. He departed for Canada on October 2nd, provisionally for furlough until December 11th, 1917, but was retained for duty in Canada.


Although the specific cause was not detailed, Thomas was struck off strength in Hamilton, Ontario, on compassionate grounds, on October 30th, 1918.


Incidentally, the formal Regimental History for the 4th CMR lists Thomas as Sergeant on being struck off strength. However, no record is made of such a promotion in his full service record. Whilst this may have occurred whilst he saw his final active service days with the 1st Deport Battalion 2nd C.O.R. it has yet to be corroborated and as such remains to be confirmed. In the meantime, Thomas is recorded on 4cmr.com's 'B' In Memoriam page and in this biography with his 4th CMR rank at closing with the regiment. This will be changed if confirmation of his promotion is found.


By the time of the 1921 Canadian Census, the Barefoot family was living in York Township, Ontario, and Thomas was making a living as a letter carrier. Wife, Eliza, was at home, eldest son, Thomas Frank, 15, was working in a factory, and youngest son, Albert, 10, was still at school.






Biography credit: Mike Kavanagh